The Open Web
Oct 29, 2009

Location-aware applications with GeoClue

By Henri Bergius.


GeoClue is a modular geoinformation service which aims to simplify the creation of location-aware applications. It has been designed with desktop and mobile use in mind, and works over D-Bus.

The presentation sheds light on what location awareness is all about. The design and motivation behind GeoClue will be explained and some hands on examples of using them in applications given. You'll also find out how GeoClue fits into different platforms (maemo, OpenMoko, OLPC, GNOME desktop).

As mobile and social aspects of computing have become more popular, the need for collecting, sharing and utilizing geoinformation has become more important. This need is not just about the user wanting specific geographical information ("Where can I get ice cream?", "How do I get to the hotel"), but also applications needing context to be usable: A weather applet would be much nicer if it just knew which city the user is in, and an instant messager or microblogging client might want to give the user an option to show current location to contacts.

The GeoClue project started in October 2006 at GNOME Summit with the idea of providing an easy and reliable way for applications to obtain information about current location. This is achieved by defining a few fairly simple APIs, and using a variety of data providers to implement them. Several providers are used as no single provider will be useful in all situations: GPS does not work indoors, web services require an internet connection, etc.

GeoClue participated in 2007 Google Summer of Code as part of the maemo project. Since the SoC GeoClue development has been continued by Garmin/OpenedHand, and a new API version will be released soon. Projects currently working on GeoClue support include the Telepathy instant messaging framework and the Mauku microblogging tool.


Henri Bergius is a former Viking based in the Nordic country of Finland. When he is not exploring the cave cities of Georgia or running with bulls in Pamplona, Bergie works on web services built on top of the Midgard toolkit. His company Nemein provides web solutions for several major companies in Finland and abroad.

After half a decade of regular web development, Henri got involved with free software in 1999 when he coordinated the public release of the Midgard content management system. Since then he has been actively working on integrating standards like RSS and Microformats into the system and traveling the world advocating for interoperation between open source CMSs.

Henri's current passion is combining web services, mobile applications and socially produced geographical data together to build useful tools for travelers and mobile companies. To this end he is working on the GeoClue library that allows mobile Linux applications to easily become geo-aware.

When duties allow, Bergie escapes the crunch to explore the hills of Lapland or rides his classic motorcycle. He is also an amateur pilot.

Fall 2009


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